Nestled in a beautiful small town, a group of seniors dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia meet once a week for music therapy. I have the incredible honour of sharing music with them and learning more about their incredible lives. Singing familiar and favourite songs from days gone by brings memories and interactions that are not always seen throughout the week. Group members that do not often speak or initiate interaction with others share answers to questions evoked by the music. Many begin moving to the music either by tapping their toes or clapping along to the beat and perhaps once again connecting to days when they attended community dances with their sweetheart.
During a session on Valentine’s Day the theme, of course, was love. Songs such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “Daisy, Daisy” elicited smiles and singing from most of the group. After a chorus of “Hey, Hey Good Lookin'”, the therapist posed the question, “What is the recipe for a long-lasting love?”. The responses included, “true friendship”, “listening to the other and then sometimes just staying quiet and agreeing”, “communication”, and “sharing lots of laughter”! Not only did the music elicit a musical response (ie. singing) but it also engaged the group members in conversation with the therapist and with each other. They shared memories and comments that at other times during the day may be forgotten or not easily retrieved.
The sweetheart of one of the group members sits in each week and at the end of a few sessions has stated that “this is often the most interactive each resident is during the week and that the music often garners more initiated response than other activities”. For those who may now be unable to participate in conversation with ease, music has created a bridge of communication, allowing them to access cherished memories from their lives. The final song may bring a close to the session but group members leave with greater energy, some still singing, having been part of a shared experience and part of a musical community.
Author : Shannon Robinson, BMT, MTA, Vice – President of Music Therapy at JB Music Therapy
JB Music Therapy is a socially conscious, hard working, talented group of professionals who desire to make a difference.
To book a music therapy session, conference presentation, or purchase a related product visit our website at www.jbmusictherapy.com